Knowledge and attitudes about AIDS among deaf and hard of hearing persons

AIDS Care. 1998 Jun;10(3):377-86. doi: 10.1080/09540129850124154.


We investigated whether the public information being dispensed about Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) reaches Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D&HH) persons to the same extent as the rest of the American population. Using a self-administered written survey, modified so that D&HH persons whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) could understand the questions, we studied 40 D&HH and 37 hearing persons in southeast Michigan. There were no significant demographic differences between the two populations, but there were differences regarding attitudes towards and knowledge about AIDS. D&HH persons were less likely to associate sexual contact with drug users and number of sexual partners as high risk sexual behaviours, were more likely to believe that storing blood for future personal use lowers their chances of contracting AIDS, and believed that using public restrooms, kisses on the cheek and visiting an AIDS patients increased their chance of contracting AIDS. Furthermore, they were more likely to believe they did not need to change their sexual behaviour as a result of the AIDS epidemic. D&HH persons also reported different attitudes towards AIDS patients, such as they were not important to their community, dentists with AIDS should not be allowed to continue working, and landlords should be able to evict people with AIDS. Our findings suggest differences in receiving, trusting, and/or being exposed to current information about AIDS by the Deaf community, consistent with the fact that they are a minority population with distinct knowledge and cultural traditions.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Communication
  • Deafness / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Surveys
  • Hearing Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Behavior